The cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi, situated at the Trikuta Hills in Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi, recorded its lowest arrival of pilgrims in three years in 2019 with less than 7.95 million devotees visiting the temple, Shrine Board officials said on Thursday.
"As many as 79,40,064 pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine in 2019 as compared to 85,86,541 in 2018," an official of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), popularly knows as Shrine Board, told PTI.
There has been a decrease of 6,46,477 pilgrims last year as compared to 2018, and a decrease of 2,38,254 pilgrims as compared to 81,78,318 in 2017, officials said.
The arrival of pilgrims at the shrine was the highest in 2018 in the five years since 2014.
In 2014, it had dropped to 7.80 million from 9.3 million the previous year. The numbers were 7.7 million in 2015 and 7.7 million in 2016, the officials added.
From 1.3 million in 1986, when the board took over the affairs of the shrine for better management, there has been a steady increase in footfalls every year, touching the all-time high of 10.4 million in 2012. It was 10.1 million the previous year.
The pilgrim arrivals at the shrine touched 3.1 million in 1991 and reached 7.4 million in 2007.
However, the number dropped to 6.7 million in 2008, which was attributed to the two-month-long Amarnath land row agitation, but went up to 8.2 million in 2009 and 8.7. million next year.